A locomotive is, next to a marine engine, the most sensitive thing
man ever made; and No. .007, besides being sensitive, was new. The
red paint was hardly dry on his spotless bumper-bar, his headlight
shone like a fireman's helmet, and his cab might have been a
hard-wood-finish parlour. They had run him into the round-house
after his trial - he had said good-bye to his best friend in the
shops, the overhead travelling-crane - the big world was just
outside; and the other locos were taking stock of him. He looked
at the semicircle of bold, unwinking headlights, heard the low purr
and mutter of the steam mounting in the gauges - scornful hisses of
contempt as a slack valve lifted a little - and would have given a
month's oil for leave to crawl through his own driving-wheels into
the brick ash-pit beneath him. .007 was an eight-wheeled "American"
loco, slightly different from others of his type, and as he stood
he was worth ten thousand dollars on the Company's books. But if
you had bought him at his own valuation, after half an hour's waiting
in the darkish, echoing round-house, you would have saved exactly
nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars and ninety-eight
A heavy Mogul freight, with a short cow-catcher and a fire-box that
came down within three inches of the rail, began the impolite game,
speaking to a Pittsburgh Consolidation, who was visiting.
"Where did this thing blow in from?" he asked, with a dreamy puff
of light steam.
"It's all I can do to keep track of our makes," was the answer,
"without lookin' after your back-numbers. Guess it's something Peter
Cooper left over when he died."
.007 quivered; his steam was getting up, but he held his tongue.
Even a hand-car knows what sort of locomotive it was that Peter
Cooper experimented upon in the far-away Thirties. It carried its
coal and water in two apple-barrels, and was not much bigger than
Then up and spoke a small, newish switching-engine, with a little
step in front of his bumper-timber, and his wheels so close together
that he looked like a broncho getting ready to buck.
"Something's wrong with the road when a Pennsylvania gravelpusher
tells us anything about our stock, I think. That kid's all right.
Eustis designed him, and Eustis designed me. Ain't that good enough?"
.007 could have carried the switching-loco round the yard in his
tender, but he felt grateful for even this little word of consolation.
"We don't use hand-cars on the Pennsylvania," said the Consolidation.
"That - er - peanut-stand is old enough and ugly enough to speak for
"He hasn't bin spoken to yet. He's bin spoke at. Hain't ye any
manners on the Pennsylvania?" said the switching-loco.
"You ought to be in the yard, Poney," said the Mogul, severely.
"We're all long-haulers here."
"That's what you think," the little fellow replied. "You'll know
more 'fore the night's out. I've bin down to Track 17, and the
freight there - oh, Christmas!"
"I've trouble enough in my own division," said a lean, light suburban
loco with very shiny brake-shoes. "My commuters wouldn't rest till
they got a parlourcar. They've hitched it back of all, and it hauls
worsen a snow-plough. I'll snap her off someday sure, and then
they'll blame every one except their foolselves. They'll be askin'
me to haul a vestibuled next!"
"They made you in New Jersey, didn't they?" said Poney. "Thought so.
Commuters and truck-wagons ain't any sweet haulin', but I tell you
they're a heap better 'n cuttin' out refrigerator-cars or oil-tanks.
Why, I've hauled -"
"Haul! You?" said the Mogul, contemptuously. "It's all you can do
to bunt a cold-storage car up the yard. Now, I - " he paused a
little to let the words sink in - "I handle the Flying Freight
- e-leven cars worth just anything you please to mention. On the
stroke of eleven I pull out; and I'm timed for thirty-five an hour.
Costly-perishable-fragile-immediate - that's me! Suburban traffic's
only but one degree better than switching. Express freight's what
"Well, I ain't given to blowing, as a rule," began the Pittsburgh
"No? You was sent in here because you grunted on the grade," Poney
"Where I grunt, you'd lie down, Poney: but, as I was saying, I don't
blow much. Notwithstandin', if you want to see freight that is
freight moved lively, you should see me warbling through the
Alleghanies with thirty-seven ore-cars behind me, and my brakemen
fightin' tramps so's they can't attend to my tooter. I have to do
all the holdin' back then, and, though I say it, I've never had a
load get away from me yet. No, sir. Haulin's's one thing, but
judgment and discretion's another. You want judgment in my
"Ah! But - but are you not paralysed by a sense of your overwhelming
responsibilities?" said a curious, husky voice from a corner.
"Who's that?" .007 whispered to the Jersey commuter.
"Compound-experiment-N.G. She's bin switchin' in the B. & A. yards
for six months, when she wasn't in the shops. She's economical (I
call it mean) in her coal, but she takes it out in repairs. Ahem!
I presume you found Boston somewhat isolated, madam, after your New
"I am never so well occupied as when I am alone." The Compound
seemed to be talking from half-way up her smoke-stack.
"Sure," said the irreverent Poney, under his breath. "They don't
hanker after her any in the yard."
"But, with my constitution and temperament - my
work lies in Boston - I find your outrecuidance
"Outer which?" said the Mogul freight. "Simple cylinders are good
enough for me."
"Perhaps I should have said faroucherie ," hissed the Compound.
"I don't hold with any make of papier-mache wheel," the Mogul
The Compound sighed pityingly, and said no more.
"Git 'em all shapes in this world, don't ye?" said Poney. "that's
Mass'chusetts all over. They half start, an' then they stick on a
dead-centre, an' blame it all on other folk's ways o' treatin' them.
Talkin' o' Boston, Comanche told me, last night, he had a hot-box
just beyond the Newtons, Friday. That was why, he says, the
Accommodation was held up. Made out no end of a tale, Comanche did."
"If I'd heard that in the shops, with my boiler out for repairs, I'd
know 't was one o' Comanche's lies," the New Jersey commuter snapped.
"Hot-box! Him! What happened was they'd put an extra car on, and
he just lay down on the grade and squealed. They had to send 127 to
help him through. Made it out a hotbox, did he? Time before that
he said he was ditched! Looked me square in the headlight and told
me that as cool as - as a water-tank in a cold wave. Hot-box! You
ask 127 about Comanche's hot-box. Why, Comanche he was side-tracked,
and 127 (he was just about as mad as they make 'em on account o'
being called out at ten o'clock at night) took hold and snapped her
into Boston in seventeen minutes. Hot-box! Hot fraud! that's what
Then .007 put both drivers and his pilot into it, as the saying is,
for he asked what sort of thing a hot-box might be?
"Paint my bell sky-blue!" said Poney, the switcher. "Make me a
surface-railroad loco with a hard-wood skirtin'-board round my wheels.
Break me up and cast me into five-cent sidewalk-fakirs' mechanical
toys! Here's an eight-wheel coupled 'American' don't know what a
hot-box is! Never heard of an emergency-stop either, did ye? Don't
know what ye carry jack-screws for? You're too innocent to be left
alone with your own tender. Oh, you - you flatcar!"
There was a roar of escaping steam before any one could answer, and
.007 nearly blistered his paint off with pure mortification.
"A hot-box," began the Compound, picking and choosing her words as
though they were coal, "a hotbox is the penalty exacted from
inexperience by haste. Ahem!"
"Hot-box!" said the Jersey Suburban. "It's the price you pay for
going on the tear. It's years since I've had one. It's a disease
that don't attack shorthaulers, as a rule."
"We never have hot-boxes on the Pennsylvania," said the Consolidation.
"They get 'em in New York - same as nervous prostration."
"Ah, go home on a ferry-boat," said the Mogul. "You think because
you use worse grades than our road 'u'd allow, you're a kind of
Alleghany angel. Now, I'll tell you what you ... Here's my folk.
Well, I can't stop. See you later, perhaps."
He rolled forward majestically to the turn-table, and swung like
a man-of-war in a tideway, till he picked up his track. "But as
for you, you pea-green swiveling' coffee-pot (this to .007'), you
go out and learn something before you associate with those who've
made more mileage in a week than you'll roll up in a year.
Costly-perishable-fragile-immediate-that's me! S' long."
"Split my tubes if that's actin' polite to a new member o' the
Brotherhood," said Poney. "There wasn't any call to trample on ye
like that. But manners was left out when Moguls was made. Keep
up your fire, kid, an' burn your own smoke. 'Guess we'll all be
wanted in a minute."
Men were talking rather excitedly in the roundhouse. One man, in
a dingy jersey, said that he hadn't any locomotives to waste on the
yard. Another man, with a piece of crumpled paper in his hand, said
that the yard-master said that he was to say that if the other man
said anything, he (the other man) was to shut his head. Then the
other man waved his arms, and wanted to know if he was expected to
keep locomotives in his hip-pocket. Then a man in a black Prince
Albert, without a collar, came up dripping, for it was a hot August
night, and said that what he said went; and between the three of
them the locomotives began to go, too - first the Compound; then
the Consolidation; then .007.
Now, deep down in his fire-box, .007 had cherished a hope that as
soon as his trial was done, he would be led forth with songs and
shoutings, and attached to a green-and-chocolate vestibuled flyer,
under charge of a bold and noble engineer, who would pat him on his
back, and weep over him, and call him his Arab steed. (The boys in
the shops where he was built used to read wonderful stories of
railroad life, and .007 expected things to happen as he had heard.)
But there did not seem to be many vestibuled fliers in the roaring,
rumbling, electric-lighted yards, and his engineer only said:
"Now, what sort of a fool-sort of an injector has Eustis loaded on
to this rig this time?" And he put the lever over with an angry
snap, crying: "Am I supposed to switch with this thing, hey?"
The collarless man mopped his head, and replied that, in the present
state of the yard and freight and a few other things, the engineer
would switch and keep on switching till the cows came home. .007
pushed out gingerly, his heart in his headlight, so nervous that the
clang of his own bell almost made him jump the track. Lanterns
waved, or danced up and down, before and behind him; and on every
side, six tracks deep, sliding backward and forward, with clashings
of couplers and squeals of hand-brakes, were cars - more cars than
.007 had dreamed of. There were oil-cars, and hay-cars, and
stock-cars full of lowing beasts, and ore-cars, and potato-cars with
stovepipe-ends sticking out in the middle; cold-storage and
refrigerator cars dripping ice water on the tracks; ventilated
fruit- and milk-cars; flatcars with truck-wagons full of market-stuff;
flat-cars loaded with reapers and binders, all red and green and
gilt under the sizzling electric lights; flat-cars piled high with
strong-scented hides, pleasant hemlock-plank, or bundles of shingles;
flat-cars creaking to the weight of thirty-ton castings, angle-irons,
and rivet-boxes for some new bridge; and hundreds and hundreds and
hundreds of box-cars loaded, locked, and chalked. Men - hot and
angry - crawled among and between and under the thousand wheels; men
took flying jumps through his cab, when he halted for a moment; men
sat on his pilot as he went forward, and on his tender as he
returned; and regiments of men ran along the tops of the box-cars
beside him, screwing down brakes, waving their arms, and crying
He was pushed forward a foot at a time; whirled backward, his rear
drivers clinking and clanking, a quarter of a mile; jerked into a
switch (yard-switches are very stubby and unaccommodating), bunted
into a Red D, or Merchant's Transport car, and, with no hint or
knowledge of the weight behind him, started up anew. When his load
was fairly on the move, three or four cars would be cut off, and
.007 would bound forward, only to be held hiccupping on the brake.
Then he would wait a few minutes, watching the whirled lanterns,
deafened with the clang of the bells, giddy with the vision of the
sliding cars, his brake-pump panting forty to the minute, his front
coupler lying sideways on his cow-catcher, like a tired dog's tongue
in his mouth, and the whole of him covered with half-burnt coal-dust.
"'Tisn't so easy switching with a straight-backed tender," said his
little friend of the round-house, bustling by at a trot. "But
you're comin' on pretty fair. 'Ever seen a flyin' switch? No?
Then watch me."
Poney was in charge of a dozen heavy flat-cars. Suddenly he shot
away from them with a sharp "Whutt !" A switch opened in the shadows
ahead; he turned up it like a rabbit as it snapped behind him, and
the long line of twelve-foot-high lumber jolted on into the arms of
a full-sized road-loco, who acknowledged receipt with a dry howl.
"My man's reckoned the smartest in the yard at that trick," he said,
returning. "Gives me cold shivers when another fool tries it,
though. That's where my short wheel-base comes in. Like as not
you'd have your tender scraped off if you tried it."
.007 had no ambitions that way, and said so.
"No? Of course this ain't your regular business, but say, don't you
think it's interestin'? Have you seen the yard-master? Well, he's
the greatest man on earth, an' don't you forget it. When are we
through? Why, kid, it's always like this, day an' night - Sundays
an' week-days. See that thirty-car freight slidin' in four, no,
five tracks off? She's all mixed freight, sent here to be sorted out
into straight trains. That's why we're cuttin' out the cars one by
one." He gave a vigorous push to a west-bound car as he spoke, and
started back with a little snort of surprise, for the car was an old
friend - an M. T. K. box-car.
"Jack my drivers, but it's Homeless Kate! Why, Kate, ain't there
no gettin' you back to your friends? There's forty chasers out for
you from your road, if there's one. Who's holdin' you now?"
"Wish I knew," whimpered Homeless Kate. "I belong in Topeka, but
I've bin to Cedar Rapids; I've bin to Winnipeg; I've bin to Newport
News; I've bin all down the old Atlanta and West Point; an' I've bin
to Buffalo. Maybe I'll fetch up at Haverstraw. I've only bin out
ten months, but I'm homesick - I'm just achin' homesick."
"Try Chicago, Katie," said the switching-loco; and the battered old
car lumbered down the track, jolting: "I want to be in Kansas when
the sunflowers bloom."
"'Yard's full o' Homeless Kates an' Wanderin' Willies," he explained
to .007. "I knew an old Fitchburg flat-car out seventeen months; an'
one of ours was gone fifteen 'fore ever we got track of her. Dunno
quite how our men fix it. 'Swap around, I guess. Anyway, I've done
my duty. She's on her way to Kansas, via Chicago; but I'll lay my
next boilerful she'll be held there to wait consignee's convenience,
and sent back to us with wheat in the fall."
Just then the Pittsburgh Consolidation passed, at the head of a
"I'm goin' home," he said proudly.
"Can't get all them twelve on to the flat. Break 'em in half,
Dutchy!" cried Poney. But it was .007 who was backed down to the
last six cars, and he nearly blew up with surprise when he found
himself pushing them on to a huge ferry-boat. He had never seen
deep water before, and shivered as the flat drew away and left his
bogies within six inches of the black, shiny tide.
After this he was hurried to the freight-house, where he saw the
yard-master, a smallish, white-faced man in shirt, trousers, and
slippers, looking down upon a sea of trucks, a mob of bawling
truckmen, and squadrons of backing, turning, sweating,
"That's shippers' carts loadin' on to the receivin' trucks," said
the small engine, reverently. "But he don't care. He lets 'em cuss.
He's the Czar-King-Boss! He says 'Please,' and then they kneel down
an' pray. There's three or four strings o' today's freight to be
pulled before he can attend to them. When he waves his hand that
way, things happen."
A string of loaded cars slid out down the track, and a string of
empties took their place. Bales, crates, boxes, jars, carboys,
frails, cases, and packages flew into them from the freight-house
as though the cars had been magnets and they iron filings.
"Ki-yah!" shrieked little Poney. "Ain't it great?"
A purple-faced truckman shouldered his way to the yard-master, and
shook his fist under his nose. The yard-master never looked up
from his bundle of freight receipts. He crooked his forefinger
slightly, and a tall young man in a red shirt, lounging carelessly
beside him, hit the truckman under the left ear, so that he dropped,
quivering and clucking, on a hay-bale.
"Eleven, seven, ninety-seven, L. Y. S.; fourteen ought ought three;
nineteen thirteen; one one four; seventeen ought twenty-one M. B.;
and the ten westbound. All straight except the two last. Cut 'em
off at the junction. An' that's all right. Pull that string."
The yard-master, with mild blue eyes, looked out over the howling
truckmen at the waters in the moonlight beyond, and hummed:
"All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lawd Gawd He made all!"
.007 moved out the cars and delivered them to the regular
road-engine. He had never felt quite so limp in his life before.
"Curious, ain't it?" said Poney, puffing, on the next track. "You
an' me, if we got that man under our bumpers, we'd work him into
red waste an' not know what we'd done; but-up there - with the steam
hummin' in his boiler that awful quiet way ... "
"I know," said .007. "Makes me feel as if I'd dropped my Fire an'
was getting cold. He is the greatest man on earth."
They were at the far north end of the yard now, under a switchtower,
looking down on the four-track way of the main traffic. The Boston
Compound was to haul .007's string to some far-away northern
junction over an indifferent road-bed, and she mourned aloud for the
ninety-six pound rails of the B. & A.
"You're young; you're young," she coughed. "You don't realise your
"Yes, he does," said Poney, sharply; "but he don't lie down under
'em." Then, with aside-spurt of steam, exactly like a tough
spitting: "There ain't more than fifteen thousand dollars' worth o'
freight behind her anyway, and she goes on as if 't were a hundred
thousand - same as the Mogul's. Excuse me, madam, but you've the
track .... She's stuck on a dead-centre again - bein' specially
designed not to."
The Compound crawled across the tracks on a long slant, groaning
horribly at each switch, and moving like a cow in a snow-drift.
There was a little pause along the yard after her tail-lights had
disappeared; switches locked crisply, and every one seemed to be
"Now I'll show you something worth," said Poney. "When the Purple
Emperor ain't on time, it's about time to amend the Constitution.
The first stroke of twelve is - "
"Boom!" went the clock in the big yard-tower, and far away .007 heard
a full, vibrating " Yah! Yah! Yah!" A headlight twinkled on the
horizon like a star, grew an overpowering blaze, and whooped up the
humming track to the roaring music of a happy giant's song:
"With a michnai - ghignai - shtingal! Yah! Yah! Yah!
Ein - zwei - drei - Mutter! Yah! Yah! Yah!
She climb upon der shteeple,
Und she frighten all der people.
Singin' michnai - ghignai - shtingal! Yah! Yah!"
The last defiant "yah! yah!" was delivered a mile and a half beyond
the passenger-depot; but .007 had caught one glimpse of the superb
six-wheel-coupled racing-locomotive, who hauled the pride and glory
of the road - the gilt-edged Purple Emperor, the millionaires'
south-bound express, laying the miles over his shoulder as a man
peels a shaving from a soft board. The rest was a blur of maroon
enamel, a bar of white light from the electrics in the cars, and
a flicker of nickel-plated hand-rail on the rear platform.
"Ooh!" said .007.
"Seventy-five miles an hour these five miles. Baths, I've heard;
barber's shop; ticker; and a library and the, rest to match. Yes,
sir; seventy-five an hour! But he'll talk to you in the round-house
just as democratic as I would. And I - cuss my wheel-base! - I'd
kick clean off the track at half his gait. He's the Master of our
Lodge. Cleans up at our house. I'll introdooce you some day. He's
worth knowin'! There ain't many can sing that song, either."
.007 was too full of emotions to answer. He did not hear a raging
of telephone-bells in the switch-tower, nor the man, as he leaned
out and called to .007's engineer: "Got any steam?"
"'Nough to run her a hundred mile out o' this, if I could," said
the engineer, who belonged to the open road and hated switching.
"Then get. The Flying Freight's ditched forty mile out, with fifty
rod o' track ploughed up. No; no one's hurt, but both tracks are
blocked. Lucky the wreckin'-car an' derrick are this end of the
yard. Crew 'll be along in a minute. Hurry! You've the track."
" Well, I could jest kick my little sawed-off self," said Poney, as
.007 was backed, with a bang, on to a grim and grimy car like a
caboose, but full of tools - a flatcar and a derrick behind it.
"Some folks are one thing, and some are another; but you're in luck,
kid. They push a wrecking-car. Now, don't get rattled. Your
wheel-base will keep you on the track, and there ain't any curves
worth mentionin'. Oh, say! Comanche told me there's one section
o' sawedged track that's liable to jounce ye a little. Fifteen an'
a half out, after the grade at Jackson's crossin'. You'll know it
by a farmhouse an' a windmill an' five maples in the dooryard.
Windmill's west o' the maples. An' there's an eighty-foot iron
bridge in the middle o' that section with no guard-rails. See you
later. Luck! "
Before he knew well what had happened, .007 was flying up the track
into the dumb, dark world. Then fears of the night beset him. He
remembered all he had ever heard of landslides, rain-piled boulders,
blown trees, and strayed cattle, all that the Boston Compound had
ever said of responsibility, and a great deal more that came out of
his own head. With a very quavering voice he whistled for his first
grade-crossing (an event in the life of a locomotive), and his
nerves were in no way restored by the sight of a frantic horse and
a white-faced man in a buggy less than a yard from his right
shoulder. Then he was sure he would jump the track; felt his
flanges mounting the rail at every curve; knew that his first grade
would make him lie down even as Comanche had done at the Newtons.
He whirled down the grade to Jackson's crossing, saw the windmill
west of the maples, felt the badly laid rails spring under him, and
sweated big drops all over his boiler. At each jarring bump he
believed an axle had smashed, and he took the eighty-foot bridge
without the guard-rail like a hunted cat on the top of a fence.
Then a wet leaf stuck against the glass of his headlight and threw
a flying shadow on the track, so that he thought it was some little
dancing animal that would feel soft if he ran over it; and anything
soft underfoot frightens a locomotive as it does an elephant. But
the men behind seemed quite calm. The wrecking-crew were climbing
carelessly from the caboose to the tender - even jesting with the
engineer, for he heard a shuffling of feet among the coal, and the
snatch of a song, something like this:
"Oh, the Empire State must learn to wait,
And the Cannon-ball go hang!
When the West-bound's ditched, and the tool-car's hitched,
And it's 'way for the Breakdown Gang (Tare-ra!)
'Way for the Breakdown Gang!"
"Say! Eustis knew what he was doin' when he designed this rig.
She's a hummer. New, too."
"Snff! Phew! She is new. That ain't paint. that's - "
A burning pain shot through .007's right rear driver - a crippling,
"This," said .007, as he flew, "is a hot-box. Now I know what it
means. I shall go to pieces, I guess. My first road-run, too!"
"Het a bit, ain't she?" the fireman ventured to suggest to the
"She'll hold for all we want of her. We're 'most there. Guess you
chaps back had better climb into your car," said the engineer, his
hand on the brake lever. "I've seen men snapped off -"
But the crew fled back with laughter. They had no wish to be jerked
on to the track. The engineer half turned his wrist, and .007 found
his drivers pinned firm.
"Now it's come!" said .007, as he yelled aloud, and slid like a
sleigh. For the moment he fancied that he would jerk bodily from
off his underpinning.
"That must be the emergency-stop that Poney guyed me about," he
gasped, as soon as he could think. "Hot-box-emergency-stop. They
both hurt; but now I can talk back in the round-house."
He was halted, all hissing hot, a few feet in the rear of what
doctors would call a compound-comminuted car. His engineer was
kneeling down among his drivers, but he did not call .007 his "Arab
steed," nor cry over him, as the engineers did in the newspapers.
He just bad worded .007, and pulled yards of charred cotton-waste
from about the axles, and hoped he might some day catch the idiot
who had packed it. Nobody else attended to him, for Evans, the
Mogul's engineer, a little cut about the head, but very angry, was
exhibiting, by lantern-light, the mangled corpse of a slim blue pig.
"T weren't even a decent-sized hog," he said. "'T were a shote."
"Dangerousest beasts they are," said one of the crew. "Get under
the pilot an' sort o' twiddle ye off the track, don't they? "
"Don't they?" roared Evans, who was a red-headed Welshman. "You
talk as if I was ditched by a hog every fool-day o' the week. I
ain't friends with all the cussed half-fed shotes in the State o'
New York. No, indeed! Yes, this is him - an' look what he's done!"
It was not a bad night's work for one stray piglet. The Flying
Freight seemed to have flown in every direction, for the Mogul had
mounted the rails and run diagonally a few hundred feet from right
to left, taking with him such cars as cared to follow. Some did
not. They broke their couplers and lay down, while rear cars
frolicked over them. In that game, they had ploughed up and removed
and twisted a good deal of the left-hand track. The Mogul himself
had waddled into a corn-field, and there he knelt - fantastic wreaths
of green twisted round his crankpins; his pilot covered with solid
clods of field, on which corn nodded drunkenly; his fire put out
with dirt (Evans had done that as soon as he recovered his senses);
and his broken headlight half full of half-burnt moths. His tender
had thrown coal all over him, and he looked like a disreputable
buffalo who had tried to wallow in a general store. For there lay
scattered over the landscape, from the burst cars, type-writers,
sewing-machines, bicycles in crates, a consignment of silver-plated
imported harness, French dresses and gloves, a dozen finely moulded
hard-wood mantels, a fifteen-foot naphtha-launch, with a solid brass
bedstead crumpled around her bows, a case of telescopes and
microscopes, two coffins, a case of very best candies, some
gilt-edged dairy produce, butter and eggs in an omelette, a broken
box of expensive toys, and a few hundred other luxuries. A camp of
tramps hurried up from nowhere, and generously volunteered to help
the crew. So the brakemen, armed with coupler-pins, walked up and
down on one side, and the freight-conductor and the fireman patrolled
the other with their hands in their hip-pockets. A long-bearded man
came out of a house beyond the corn-field, and told Evans that if
the accident had happened a little later in the year, all his corn
would have been burned, and accused Evans of carelessness. Then he
ran away, for Evans was at his heels shrieking: "'T was his hog done
it - his hog done it! Let me kill him! Let me kill him!" Then
the wrecking-crew laughed; and the farmer put his head out of a
window and said that Evans was no gentleman.
But .007 was very sober. He had never seen a wreck before, and it
frightened him. The crew still laughed, but they worked at the same
time; and .007 forgot horror in amazement at the way they handled
the Mogul freight. They dug round him with spades; they put ties
in front of his wheels, and jack-screws under him; they embraced
him with the derrick-chain and tickled him with crowbars; while
.007 was hitched on to wrecked cars and backed away till the knot
broke or the cars rolled clear of the track. By dawn thirty or
forty men were at work, replacing and ramming down the ties,
gauging the rails and spiking them. By daylight all cars who could
move had gone on in charge of another loco; the track was freed for
traffic; and .007 had hauled the old Mogul over a small pavement of
ties, inch by inch, till his flanges bit the rail once more, and he
settled down with a clank. But his spirit was broken, and his nerve
"'T weren't even a hog," he repeated dolefully; "'t were a shote;
and you - you of all of 'em - had to help me on."
"But how in the whole long road did it happen?" asked .007, sizzling
"Happen! It didn't happen! It just come! I sailed right on top of
him around that last curve - thought he was a skunk. Yes; he was
all as little as that. He hadn't more 'n squealed once 'fore I felt
my bogies lift (he'd rolled right under the pilot), and I couldn't
catch the track again to save me. Swivelled clean off, I was. Then
I felt him sling himself along, all greasy, under my left leadin'
driver, and, oh, Boilers! that mounted the rail. I heard my flanges
zippin' along the ties, an' the next I knew I was playin' 'Sally,
Sally Waters' in the corn, my tender shuckin' coal through my cab,
an' old man Evans lyin' still an' bleedin' in front o' me. Shook?
There ain't a stay or a bolt or a rivet in me that ain't sprung to
"Umm!" said .007. "What d' you reckon you weigh?"
"Without these lumps o' dirt I'm all of a hundred thousand pound."
"And the shote?"
"Eighty. Call him a hundred pound at the outside. He's worth about
four 'n' a half dollars. Ain't it awful? Ain't it enough to give
you nervous prostration? Ain't it paralysin'? Why, I come just
around that curve - " and the Mogul told the tale again, for he was
very badly shaken.
"Well, it's all in the day's run, I guess," said .007, soothingly;
"an' - an' a corn-field's pretty soft fallin'."
"If it had bin a sixty-foot bridge, an' I could ha' slid off into
deep water an' blown up an' killed both men, same as others have
done, I wouldn't ha' cared; but to be ditched by a shote - an' you
to help me out - in a corn-field - an' an old hayseed in his
nightgown cussin' me like as if I was a sick truck-horse! ... Oh,
it's awful! Don't call me Mogul! I'm a sewin'-machine. they'll
guy my sand-box off in the yard."
And .007, his hot-box cooled and his experience vastly enlarged,
hauled the Mogul freight slowly to the roundhouse.
"Hello, old man! Bin out all night, hain't ye?" said the
irrepressible Poney, who had just come off duty. "Well, I must say
you look it. Costly-perishable-fragile-immediate - that's you! Go
to the shops, take them vine-leaves out o' your hair, an' git 'em
to play the hose on you."
"Leave him alone, Poney, " said .007 severely, as he was swung on
the turn-table, "or I'll - "
"'Didn't know the old granger was any special friend o' yours, kid.
He wasn't over-civil to you last time I saw him."
"I know it; but I've seen a wreck since then, and it has about scared
the paint off me. I'm not going to guy anyone as long as I steam -
not when they're new to the business an' anxious to learn. And I'm
not goin' to guy the old Mogul either, though I did find him wreathed
around with roastin'-ears. 'T was a little bit of a shote - not a
hog - just a shote, Poney - no bigger'n a lump of anthracite - I saw
it - that made all the mess. Anybody can be ditched, I guess."
"Found that out already, have you? Well, that's a good beginnin'."
It was the Purple Emperor, with his high, tight, plate-glass cab and
green velvet cushion, waiting to be cleaned for his next day's fly.
"Let me make you two gen'lemen acquainted," said Poney. "This is
our Purple Emperor, kid, whom you were admirin' and, I may say,
envyin' last night. This is a new brother, worshipful sir, with
most of his mileage ahead of him, but, so far as a serving-brother
can, I'll answer for him.'
"'Happy to meet you," said the Purple Emperor, with a glance round
the crowded round-house. "I guess there are enough of us here to
form a full meetin'. Ahem! By virtue of the authority vested in
me as Head of the Road, I hereby declare and pronounce No. .007 a
full and accepted Brother of the Amalgamated Brotherhood of
Locomotives, and as such entitled to all shop, switch, track, tank,
and round-house privileges throughout my jurisdiction, in the Degree
of Superior Flier, it bein' well known and credibly reported to me
that our Brother has covered forty-one miles in thirty-nine minutes
and a half on an errand of mercy to the afflicted. At a convenient
time, I myself will communicate to you the Song and Signal of this
Degree whereby you may be recognised in the darkest night. Take
your stall, newly entered Brother among Locomotives! "
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now, in the darkest night, even as the Purple Emperor said, if you
will stand on the bridge across the freightyard, looking down upon
the four-track way, at 2:30 A. M., neither before nor after, when
the White Moth, that takes the overflow from the Purple Emperor,
tears south with her seven vestibuled cream-white cars, you will
hear, as the yard-clock makes the half-hour, a far-away sound like
the bass of a violoncello, and then, a hundred feet to each word
"With a michnai - ghignai - shtingal! Yah! Yah! Yah!
Ein - zwei - drei - Mutter! Yah! Yah! Yah!
She climb upon der shteeple,
Und she frighten all der people,
Singin' michnai - ghignai - shtingal! Yah! Yah!"
That is .007 covering his one hundred and fifty-six miles in two
hundred and twenty-one minutes.